By Maureen Hayden CNHI Statehouse Bureau
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — Statewide 87 percent of the 55,000 teachers evaluated were rated as “Highly Effective” or “Effective.” Just over 2 percent were rated in the “Improvement Necessary” category, and fewer than 0.04 percent were rated as “Ineffective.”
The data released by the state Department of Education include evaluations of teachers, aides, counselors and school principals. It was precipitated by a 2011 law that requires school districts to evaluate licensed staff each year and use the information to determine compensation. The law – which took effect in the 2012-13 school year – aimed to replace teacher pay based on years of service with merit pay based on student achievement.
The first-ever release of this data reveals the challenges in implementing a statewide evaluation program. The 2011 law left school corporations latitude to do the evaluations. It required schools to use student growth data – such as test scores – but the weight given that data varies.
In some districts, student performance on tests accounts for 50 percent of a teacher’s rating, while in others it’s as low as 15 percent, according to DOE staff. Asked about the discrepancy in evaluation models, DOE spokesman Daniel Altman said: “The results are what they are.” He said it was the Legislature that allowed districts to pick their own evaluation metrics.
Locally, only one teacher in Daviess County was lower than the top two categories. The rest, despite earning mixed grades for their schools, were all rated “Highly Effective” or “Effective.”
In Washington, 101 teachers were rated “Effective,” while 39 teachers received the “Highly Effective” rating. The only teacher was rated “Improvement Necessary” was a teacher at Griffith Elementary School. School grades at Washington schools were across the board for the 2012-13 school year, but showed improvement. At Lena Dunn, the most teachers were rated as “Highly Effective,” with 11 but had the lowest school grade of any Daviess County school with a D. The grade was a significant improvement from a year before.
At Barr-Reeve, 12 teachers were in the “Highly Effective” category, while 43 teachers were “Effective.” At North Daviess, only one teacher was rated “Highly Effective,” while the others, 72, were in the “Effective.”
There was a wider range of evaluations in Pike and Martin counties. For the Pike County School Corporation, three teachers were rated “Improvement Necessary,” and a teacher was even rated “Ineffective.” In Shoals, five teachers were rated for improvement and a teacher was given the lowest, “Ineffective,” rating.
Loogootee schools chose not to make their teacher evaluations public.
The state developed an evaluation model for districts, called RISE, which gives significant weight to test scores. Only 115 of nearly 300 districts in Indiana used that model. The rest used other evaluation tools or created their own. About 20 districts failed to report which model they used, DOE officials said.
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz was a sharp critic of the educator evaluation law when she ran for office in 2012. A Democrat, Ritz defeated incumbent Republican Tony Bennett, who’d championed the idea of a standard, statewide evaluation.
Rep. Bob Behning, R-Noblesville, one of the authors of the 2011 law, said evaluation data demonstrates the need to have a uniform model.
“Allowing for local school districts to make their own determination about what model to use makes it palatable to educators,” Behning said. “But appears to me that results are less reliable.”
Behning noted the results varied widely. In some districts, more than two-thirds of teachers were rated as “Highly Effective,” while other districts rated all teachers simply as “Effective.” Even in schools with low student achievement, few teachers were rated as “Ineffective.”
Behning, a Republican who chairs the House Education Committee, said he’ll encourage legislators to revisit the 2011 educator evaluation law to include more uniform performance metrics.
“We want good teachers to know how much we appreciate their efforts,” Behning said. “We need to recognize quality and reward it.”
Staff Writer Nate Smith contributed to this report